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Thank you for sharing this. It certainly would have been easier to just blog the good events. We have noticed residual effects from straw we have got from non-organic neighbors (our organic friends won’t sell straw as it is returned to the soil). I would try a trial with some plants in the garden next year to see if the results are the same (even if you don’t intend to harvest and use). The reason I say this is that we have had a weird gardening season here as well with low results on a number of vegetable crops (and we are not the only ones to see the same thing). Not the same problems as you describe but far from typical. Hopefully this is an aberration for you and not a contamination issue. I enjoy you site and wish you the best. I’ve visited Patrick’s community garden; it’s a nice little urban oasis. But that urban setting makes being realistic about potential vermin problems crucial. Its very easy to breed the nasty, dangerous things, and much harder to get the population to go in the other direction. So here are some ideas. What animal it might be will depend on your location. It is likely not a mole, because of its diet. Voles (similar to mice) dig shallow tunnels that run along the lawn, as moles do; these rodents can be destructive in the garden. Other small rodents, such as mice might be a possibility as well. Chipmunks also dig tunnels, although you might not see the tunnels running along the surface. Gophers leave mounds of dirt at tunnel entrances, but not tunnels along the grass. Large holes could be a woodchuck, but they don’t have shallow tunnels. Rabbits, crows, raccoons, squirrels, coyotes, deer . . . just about any animal that eats fruit as part of its diet will take advantage of a melon. Raccoons like melons (and corn) especially. What animal it is will affect how you protect the fruit. Good luck! This sounds like a wonderful book. I would love to add it to my treasured gardening books. Just had similar experience this year. Moved far, far away, bought a farm in a climate where people actually grow crops…not just grass hay. Inquired about the “free” compost pile at landfill then got schooled by local gardeners that some farmers spray “Grazon” (had NEVER heard of it!) and the likes and to be very wary about buying topsoil/compost from local sources. Was so excited to find big round bales of straw on my place left from past owner. Built amazing lasagne style gardens with this straw and also mulched top of most beds with it. Found out it was sprayed and did my best to get the mulch off but the lasagne beds were hopeless. Wow. I lost almost everything that had been planted in those beds and that was the only variable that was different. “Hang the garden makeover; anyone who favors natural, twiggy plant supports can have an authentic English cottage garden,” she wrote in an early post, which breezily laid out the history of the cottage garden, explained the differences among various willow arbors and supports, and offered design suggestions for incorporating same into a landscape. In under 500 words. My wife’s family grows alfalfa and I have been using hay from their barn floors for the last few years to deep mulch my garden. Been loving it and my garden grows great……….however…..I have been worried about this issue as they recently planted a field of “Round Up Ready Alfalfa.” You can no longer assume that alfalfa isn’t sprayed with herbicides. They have been using grass killers in alfalfa fields for years. Most garden plants aren’t grasses so maybe that’s why it’s been a bit of a non issue……but the effect of round up residues may potentially bring about different concerns. Thanks for sharing Jill. I’ll be keeping a close eye on things as I have been hoping this wouldn’t be an issue. To help manage weeds – if you have raised beds in your garden (and you probably should for optimal drainage), then the inter-row could host a cocktail cover crop rather than providing a haven for weeds. You are effectively “choosing your weeds” in this instance, by replacing unwanted invaders with functional plants offering multiple benefits. Garden conditions – waterlogging, coastal gardening Mushroom soil is not good for a garden. I put a load of about 5 tons in mine 15 years ago. Worst garden crops ever and tons of weed. Found out that mushroom soil is composted horse manure – loads of weed seeds! One bug does not make a problem! In nature, there are always some garden pests chewing on plants; that’s just the way it is. However, not all pest damage is significant enough to warrant action. Even the healthiest gardens encounter bugs at one time or another, yet they still produce a beautiful harvest. As gardeners, we must each consider the level of pest activity that we are willing to tolerate. How about adding VOLES to the list of garden Pests. I have one that has eaten everyone of my marigolds and chwews off one whole patch of Bee Balm. Now the beast is eating my tomatoes to get all of the seeds. Yes it is a vole because I have seen him or them scurrying in an around my planting beds. I have put out three live catch traps and all have remained empty. I put out glue boards up next to the foundation of the house and he kicked dirt all over them. I put out poison and it hasn’t been touched in two weeks. These thinks are the bane of my summer gardening. My garden is a field Will it take much looking after? Once planted, this garden will look after itself — aside from the odd pruning of climbers, such as clematis, and the addition of some bright summer blooms, like lilies or poppies. Good question– we have had slightly less rain this year– but I’ve watered sufficiently. And we’ve had other dry years where the garden still thrived, so it’s hard to say for sure. Hi Jill, I am new to Prairie Homestead, maybe a month or so. I have just had the time to sit down and start to catch up on all the info in your tool boxes ( we have just had our first snow/blizzard here in Tea, SD, so officially done with the garden.) I can now sit and rest a while :). I was just reading about your tomato catastrophe, so sorry. It is so hard to watch your hard work curl up and die and then not know why. I was wondering if you have ever used worm castings (Poo). My husband and I started using it about 3 years ago. Our gardens are the best they have ever been. Its 100%pure, OMRI certified.You can’t burn your vegetation, its safe around children and animals, heck you could eat it if you wanted to-my husband tried- he’s weird 🙂 It is an excellent soil builder also. I’m going to do something here, hope its OK. This is our side business now. We took a full growing season to test it out for ourselves before we made up our minds to sell it as whole sale distributors. Anyway this may be something you may want to check out. We use it with our composted leaves and grass clippings. I can not remember the last time we even entertained the idea of using any kind of harmful chemical on anything in & around our yard and gardens. We have read so much about this and it really hits home, knowing what goes into your body is just 1/2 the fight and you have to stay ever so vigilant. Well I hope that I was somewhat helpful for you. If you would like any information about Worm poop, I will send you a website so you can check it out for yourself. Wishing you & yours Good Luck in the next growing season. Shawn PS.I enjoy the rest during this time of year but I’m already thinking/planning my garden plots out for next year 😉 erogan Testogen el macho BioBelt power up premium eracto Eron Plus VigRX Plus Testogen xtrasize

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